Government pumps £millions into cycling

DfT announces record £140m Government investment in cycling
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The cash injection - boosting the importance of Cycling England - was announced earlier today by transport secretary Ruth Kelly.

Cycling England has asked for £250m. Cycling England's previous budget was £10m per annum. The £140m is split over three years.

The DfT said: "The new drive to boost cycling will help to tackle road congestion and improve air quality as well as create more opportunities for exercise. It fulfils a commitment to increase investment in sustainable transport initiatives, outlined in the recent strategy document, 'Towards a Sustainable Transport System'."

The funding increase will:

* allow an extra 500,000 10 year-olds across England to take part in Bikeability cycle training by 2012, equipping them to cycle safely and responsibly

* build another 250 Safe Links to Schools, connecting around 500 more schools to the National Cycle Network. Many schools with links have already doubled the number of pupils cycling to school.

* create up to a further 10 Cycling Demonstration Towns in England, as well as the first large Demonstration City. This will mean nearly 3 million people will have the chance to benefit from best practice and promotion of cycling.

Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Transport said:

"Cycling brings many benefits, both for the individual in terms of health and fitness and for the local community as it helps tackle congestion and improve local air quality.

"Being able to cycle safely is an important life skill and I want to give more children the opportunity to do it and encourage more adults to reach for their bikes.

"By 2012, I expect 500,000 more children to have been able to learn the necessary skills so that they cycle safely and responsibly. This will give parents reassurance that their children are suitably equipped to use the roads and enjoy their bikes.

"The results of both Bikeability and Cycle Demonstration Towns are hugely impressive and prove that by providing the right facilities and support more people are willing to get on their bikes. For example, Darlington has quadrupled the proportion of children cycling to school. Aylesbury has also seen a five-fold increase in residents using a bike as one of their two main means of transport in the last two years.

"That is why think it is right to expand this project so we encourage healthier lifestyles and more sustainable communities."

Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Health said:

"This significant Government commitment to promoting active travel will
have a positive impact on the health and well-being of children and young
people across the country.

"We know that children and young people need to be moderately active for at least an hour every day. While schools are successfully increasing the amount of sport and other physical activities pupils take part in, it is essential that young people do more beyond the school gates. Cycling or walking to and from school is an excellent way to keep active as well as helping to install a culture of exercise for adult life."

Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, said:

"I want children and young people out and about learning to travel safely and independently to school and to other activities. If children can cycle safely to school it will help tackle obesity, keep kids active and help protect the environment.

"Bikeability is already popular and successful and this new funding will help more pupils to get the qualification and make sure parents can be reassured their children are safe.

"As I said in the Children's Plan we want to encourage more outdoor activities and cycling can be an important part of healthy living which is something we all need to teach children, at home as well as in the classroom.

"We need to put healthy lifestyles back where they belong in every part of a child's day. This is a positive start towards reducing the long-term consequences of childhood obesity - establishing good habits from early on ensures a solid basis for children to enjoy their childhood."

The funding package will go to Cycling England, the body set up by Government to promote cycling, to continue their successful work.

Phillip Darnton, Chairman of Cycling England said:

"Cycling England has produced compelling evidence to show that increased and sustained levels of investment in cycling can make a substantial impact.

"We are delighted that the Government has acted and believe today's announcement will make a real difference to the way we travel - to school, work and the station. The expansion of Bikeability training will give the next generation the skills and confidence to ride on today's roads.

"The bicycle really does have a role in helping meet England's transport challenges. It is now taking its place as a proper mode of transport."

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